Fairy tales are usually short stories connected to countries' oral traditions. The tales may have a hero, heroine, or characters who must overcome wrongdoing of some kind and are in juxtaposition to an evil character. Also, fairy tales often have a moral message, and their stories may have magical and supernatural elements.
Sol, Luna y Talía. Illustration by Gustavo Doré. Public domain image. In the Giambattista Basile tale, a king rapes the sleeping Talia, who becomes pregnant with Sol and Luna.
Fairy tales usually have primary and secondary characters representing good and evil. These characters embody the villains, the adversaries, the heroes, the friends, the morals, the obstacles, and the supernatural elements. Characters may also be magical creatures, animals, nature, and enchanted objects.
Among the characters we may find:
Briar Rose Illustrated by Anne Anderson. Public domain image.
Symbolism is an essential element in fairy tales. Cinderella's glass slipper, the nose of Pinocchio, the mirror that looks at the inner self in Snow White, the boundaries represented in the enchanted forests, the number three, birds as messengers, the clothing and shoes in Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and Little Tom Thumb are a few examples of the element of symbolism present in this genre.
Symbolism is seen in:
Marlinchen mourning the loss over her stepbrother whilst a bird emerges from the juniper tree.; Illustration by Louis R. Head. Public domain image.